Like most of you, I have been trying to decide what I am going to do in regards to the 2016 presidential elections. I share my current thinking in hopes that it may be of help—even if to only one of you.
First, I have decided that this particular election is not about me voting my conscience. It’s not about finding someone to validate my values. I’m old enough and secure enough that I don’t expect or need that kind of validation any more. For me, this election is about choosing who will best govern as president of our country. Now for me, “govern” is a loaded term because unlike many of my fellow citizens, I don’t believe that the president has the power (constitutional or otherwise) to unilaterally fix things by him or herself. He or he is not a king or queen. He or she has an impact based on his or her ability to work with other people, with the other branches of government. So collaboration and consensus building are high on my list as indicators of being able to appropriately and successfully govern.
Second, I feel a moral obligation to make a choice and vote. Like many others, my initial reaction was that I was not going to vote. But then it occurred to me, watching my grandchildren, that that approach was much like a seven year old whining on the playground that he is not going to play because nobody is playing the game he wants to play. There have been lots of times in my life when I did not have the choice of what options were placed in front of me, but I did still have the option of choosing one of them and making it my own authentic choice. No, my ideal candidate will not be on the ballot; if I had control of the options, I would come up with other choices. But at this point, the options are there and it’s up to me as a responsible adult to do my research and make a responsible decision.
Third, I do have the choice to focus on the negative or the positive, and I choose to focus on the positive. In my opinion, every candidate for every position has probably enough bad in him or her that he or she probably shouldn’t be running. That’s the nature of politics. And in my opinion, the bad quotients for each of the current presidential candidates is about the same and therefore cancel each other out. So focusing on that badness is not going to get me anywhere. In contrast, I think that I will be able to find real differentiation when I look at the good traits and abilities of the candidates and let that influence my final decision.
Fourth, I have noticed with some dismay that many of us feel that once we get into the realm of politics and particularly presidential politics, we no longer need to be civil, kind, show respect or basic human decency. I have been surprised at some of the Dr. Jekylls and Mr. Hydes that I have seen in my acquaintances: they would have never thought to call anyone a name but then are incredibly comfortable with the slander and libel they generate for one candidate or the other. So my choice this election is to talk about the candidates the same way I would talk about and to my Aunt Norma. I choose to be a decent human being and treat others the same. I chose to use language that builds rather than tears down.
So I invite you to join me in focusing on governance, voting responsibly, being positive and using language that reflects my/our Christian discipleship. We can do this.